People who follow the “MIND” or Mediterranean diet may have increased protection against neurodegenerative diseases, a major study has revealed.
The research, published by the University of British Columbia, adds to the growing body of evidence underlining the importance of diet on brain health.
The study looked at the combination of two popular diets: the Mediterranean diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. Together they form what is known as the MIND diet, which experts say could reduce the risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
This type of diet often includes reduced meat intake and “a focus on vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats”.
To carry out the study, the researchers asked 176 participants to answer questions on their diet, as well as their brain health. It was found that “close adherence” to these diets coincided with later onset of Parkinson’s disease in women of up to 17.4 years, and 8.4 years in men.
Commenting on the paper, author Dr Silke Appel-Cresswell said: “The study shows individuals with Parkinson’s disease have a significantly later age of onset if their eating pattern closely aligns with the Mediterranean-type diet.”
The study also revealed that the MIND diet was more effective for women, while the Mediterranean was more effective for men at improving brain health.
Co-author Avril Metcalfe-Roach said: “If we understand the sex differences between the MIND diet and Mediterranean diet then we might better understand the sex differences that drive Parkinson’s disease in the first place.”
He added: “There is so much benefit to eating healthy. It is in everybody’s best interest to try to keep your microbiome healthy, to try and eat a rich variety of plant-based and other healthy foods. This study provides even more evidence for what we already know–that we should be trying to eat healthy and taking care of ourselves.”